January
30th 2011
Win the Future?

Posted under: American history, bad language

Justin Moyer reviews the presumptive Obama campaign slogan “Win the Future,”and offers a trip down memory lane of former Presidential campaign slogans in this morning’s Washington Post.  (I don’t agree at all with Sarah Palin’s assessment, since I’m all for massive investments in research, green energy, and public transportation, but she nailed the acronym!) 

I remember WIN buttons–or did I just see them in a history textbook once?–but am disappointed to have no recollection of MEOW.  (Click the link and absorb the American history, friends!)  That last one has to rank with the all-time dumbest, aside for what was originally called in 2003 Operation Iraqi Liberation, or OIL!

The problem as I see it is that Barack Obama had his moment when he could talk about the future and hope and change–and that was 2007-08, when he offered Americans something new and appealing and positioned himself brilliantly between Bill and Hillary Clinton fatigue and the rage at George W. Bush.  I don’t think it’s an awesome idea to remind people that the future you promised them in 2008 hasn’t arrived by 2011 or 2012.  (We can haz future this year, mebbe?  Or at least <8% unemployment, for starters?)

14 Comments »

14 Responses to “Win the Future?”

  1. Notorious Ph.D. on 30 Jan 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    I just don’t like any part of it:

    “win” — as if a better future were a prize that will be dropped in our laps if we wait long enough.

    “future” — as any fan of dystopian spec-fic can tell you, there are all sorts of possible futures. Points off for vagueness, Mr. President.

    I suppose that the “the” part is okay.

  2. Indyanna on 30 Jan 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    Agreed. This move has to be considered as just slightly ahead of the pathetically jocose “I’m Backing Britain” campaign of 1968, which–no one on this blog will be surprised to learn–began with some working women nobly volunteering to WFF (“work for free”), a move that was embraced with alacrity by the embattled P.M., Mr. Harold Wilson. (see, i.a., Wikipedia). Some of us Yanks wore the buttons in college, kind of as a joke.

  3. undine on 30 Jan 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    As I was listening to the “Win the Future,” I was thinking of poor Gerald Ford’s WIN (Whip Inflation Now) speech and those buttons. Some media advisor probably paid big time for that mistake, I’m guessing.

  4. koshem Bos on 30 Jan 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    For those that did buy the pathetic Obama in 2008, the best he can promise for the future is to disappear. The second banana of 2008 turned out to be a fifth banana with a SOTU speech that promised to out something (e.g. compete, perform, achieve) everyone else. The world has changed and the future we want in a more equal society that makes us proud and not better than others. With Obama we don’t have it.

  5. Western Dave on 30 Jan 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    @koshem Bos. Are there any good SOTU speeches or letters you can point to? It’s a pretty banal genre.

  6. Profane on 30 Jan 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    In my guts I know he’s nuts.

  7. Bardiac on 30 Jan 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    I’m pretty sure I still have a WIN button in a bag of buttons from high school, somewhere…

  8. Multanemo on 30 Jan 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    We want good jobs, not platitudes. Sorry, but it is just that simple when you are jobless or horribly underemployed.

  9. quixote on 30 Jan 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Profane, I can see the new buttons now:

    “WTF! In my guts I know he’s nuts!”

  10. Historiann on 30 Jan 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Western Dave is right–SOTU addresses are pretty forgettable. Obama has had a steep hill to climb, and speeches can only get him (and the rest of us) so far.

    The national press is only interested in the horse race, as though the fate of the republic depended on one man (or another’s) political fortunes. I suppose I get caught up in that crap too, but it’s not as important as the implementation of good policy. It’s related to it–but it’s not the same thing.

  11. Indyanna on 31 Jan 2011 at 11:05 am #

    When I was back there in colledge (I’ve never tried to check up on this empirically) I had a prof who told us that early in his first term Washington just grabbed a folder from his desk and strolled a block over to the State House in Philadelphis and walked in on Congress to deliver the constitutionally-required “Information of the State of the Union.” And, further, that the honorable body freaked out as if the intruder was King Charles with a pack of hounds, coming into the people’s house to extract some ranters, levelers, and other assorted troublemakers. And, finally, that this was the backstory to the contemporary ceremoniality with the Sgt. at Arms’s announcement and the slow march of the executive guest down the carpet to the rostrum. He didn’t mention anything about celebrities in the gallery or Supreme Court justices preening for the occasional screen-shot. But, true or false, this would make a great premise for a short film to take up to Sundance.

  12. Western Dave on 31 Jan 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    And I just read, on Cracked.com so you know it’s true, that Jefferson started the tradition of sending written missives because he suffered from terribly anxiety in public speaking and couldn’t bring himself to address Congress. Does anybody know Gingy Scharff (or is she here somewhere) and can verify that story? Or another Jefferson scholar, but it seemed like a nice way to give a plug to Gingy’s new book… http://www.amazon.com/Women-Jefferson-Loved-Virginia-Scharff/dp/0061227072/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1296507506&sr=1-1

  13. Historiann on 31 Jan 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    Maybe she should write a screenplay about a well-spoken Indian man who teaches Jefferson to overcome his public speaking phobias and call it The President’s Speech?

    (I saw The King’s Speech earlier this month, and while it was a fun period drama with all of the regular English players we expect to see in period dramas, I don’t think it’s worthy of all of the awards and fawning-over it’s receiving. It was odd to see Anthony “Sebastian Flyte” Andrews play Stanley Baldwin. Or rather, it was odd to realize that he’s old enough to play Baldwin.)

  14. Cautiously optimistic | Kelly J Baker on 31 Jul 2012 at 9:47 am #

    [...] Historiann, my favorite blogger, might we problematize hope rhetoric? (Here’s one example). [...]

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